The three high schools conducted their commencement ceremonies under sunny skies Saturday morning, and the raindrops didn’t begin falling until Monday.
Forty years earlier, members of Tracy High’s Class of 1972 weren’t so lucky.
About 5 p.m. the evening of Friday, June 9, 1972, threatening cloudy skies started sending rain onto Peter B. Kyne Field, and it kept raining.
Finally, an hour or so before the 8 p.m. graduation was to begin, school officials announced that graduation would be held indoors — in the school gymnasium.
School counselor Earl Bortz said members of the custodial staff were on stand-by duty and were called in “at the last minute” to set up the gym for graduation.
Don Juelke, the chairman of the graduation, and other school officials had to turn away many from the ceremony, as the gym could accommodate fewer people than the football field bleachers.
“Two types of tickets were issued, some good for indoors and out, and others for outdoors,” he said after the graduation, adding:
“A lot of people had relatives coming from far away — I heard some came from Arizona. There was a lot of griping at the beginning.”
Graduates sat on folding chairs on the gym floor, while relatives and friends were seated in the stands and at one end of the gym.
All in all, the impromptu indoor graduation went off well, Juelke reported, saying, “I think the kids enjoyed it.”
Members of the Class of 1972 will be able to reminisce about their indoor graduation during their 40th anniversary reunion this September. Oh, yes, the reunion will be indoors — in the Tracy Inn Gold Room.
A car hop’s big tip
I received another response to the recent column about the Orange Basket Drive-in next to the Tracy High campus on East 11th Street.
Lajuana Edrington Hartsock wrote via email that she was a car hop at the Orange Basket in 1951, along with Norma Gabbard Cook.
“My best friend, Nadine Cowen Cook, sent the picture from the paper, and it sure brought back some great memories,” she wrote. “The best four years of my life, 1949 to 1953, were spent at Tracy High.”
Lajuana remembered that Louie and Agnes Gaglias operated The Orange Basket during those years. Car hops were paid 85 cents an hour, plus tips.
“Most people would give you a nickel or a dime, but one guy would come inside once in a while, order a hamburger and a strawberry milkshake that would cost 36 cents — and sometimes he’d give me a tip of 50 cents. Wow, do I remember that!”
Lajuana came to Tracy when she was 7 years old. In recent years, she returned to her native Texas and now lives in Pilot Point near Denton.
A paper girl? Yes!
And then there was my report a couple weeks ago of being a paper boy back in the 1940s. In the column, I mentioned that there were no paper girls in those days.
“Wrong,” Donna Osborne of the San Joaquin River Club told me over the phone. “I was a paper girl about the same time.”
She reported selling single copies of the Richmond Independent when she was 7 years old.
“I had regular customers who bought the paper from me,” she recalled. “They didn’t deliver the paper at that time.”
Later, when the Independent established paper routes, Donna got a route, but not officially. Because only boys were hired to deliver the paper, her older brother, Don Kahler, had four routes, and Donna delivered one of them. A younger brother, Larry, delivered two.
“You mentioned in your article that you didn’t collect from customers, but we sure did,” she told me. “And you missed out. At Christmas, we got all kinds of presents from people taking the paper — more presents than we got at home.”
Donna, 76, has lived at the River Club for more than 30 years and is a regular reader of the Press — now delivered by an adult carrier. No carrier boys, or girls, these days.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.